Potential for Some Injuries from the Covid-19 Vaccine
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
The New England Journal of Medicine published an important piece this week on the rare, albeit real, potential for some injuries from the Covid-19 vaccine.
The authors point out that “[o]rdinarily, it takes scientists about 10 years to develop a vaccine. By contrast, the pharmaceutical industry has worked toward emergency approval of Covid-19 vaccines in a matter of months.” And while about 74,000 brave individuals enrolled in clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the shortened development period means that medical professionals don’t yet have all the data to be able to determine whether adverse events from the vaccines may manifest themselves after a more extended period of time. The New England Journal of Medicine’s article’s authors note that “neurologic conditions such as encephalitis, transverse myelitis, or Guillain-Barre syndrome that might occur in the longer term” haven’t yet been identified and studied because of the shortened development timeline.
If adverse events do arise, the current system doesn’t offer much relief for those vaccine recipients. While a system for compensation covering rare vaccine injuries involving a whole host of other vaccines does exist in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation System, the Covid-19 vaccines are currently excluded from that compensation program leaving recipients with no real backstop should they experience a rare adverse reaction. This is why executive, legislative, or agency action is necessary to appropriately incentivize vaccinations while protecting individuals in those rare cases where they experience a vaccine-related injury.
You can read this important piece in the NEJM here: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2034438